Downey Unified School District (DUSD) aspires for all students to graduate with a 21st-century education that ensures they are college and career ready, globally competitive, and citizens of strong character. DUSD is located in southeastern Los Angeles. There are approximately 22,500 students across DUSD’s elementary, middle, and high schools. Recent demographic information reported that 88% of the students were Hispanic, 5% were White, 3% were Asian, and 3% were African American. A majority of the school district’s students (75%) were economically disadvantaged.
DUSD began enrolling its long-term English learners (LTELs) in English 3D during the 2012–2013 school year. Across the three school years that DUSD has implemented English 3D, the district has invested in Literacy Solutions professional learning services to support its English 3D teachers. During the 2013–2014 school year, the district received three upfront professional learning sessions to ground their understanding of the program: 21 in-class support days, and quarterly customized professional learning sessions for every English 3D teacher, conducted by an expert implementation consultant.
During the 2014–2015 school year, the district agreed to conduct a preliminary study to evaluate the effectiveness of their English 3D implementation. The district administered the Reading Inventory to 139 English 3D students across four schools in Grades 6 through 8 during the winter and the spring. In addition, researchers conducted teacher focus groups and administrator interviews during the winter and spring in order to ascertain the impact of English 3D on LTELs in DUSD.
Overall, the average winter Lexile® measure for English 3D students was 661L and the average spring Lexile measure was 702L. In only one semester, students made an average measure gain of 41L. Average Lexile measure gains for each grade were 97L for sixth grade, 29L for seventh grade, and 31L for eighth grade in one semester. See Graph 1.
Overall, in one semester, 53% of the English 3D students met their expected growth. English 3D students also demonstrated forward momentum in their changing performance levels on the Reading Inventory®, with the percentage of students in the Proficient performance level doubling from winter to spring. See Graph 2.
District teachers met with researchers to discuss their experiences using English 3D over the previous three years. Several themes emerged from the focus groups: English 3D builds academic vocabulary and the ability to engage in academic discourse; English 3D exposes students to nonfiction and to real-world issues; the Teaching Guide and Teacher Space CD provide effective guidance. See Figure 1.
Administrators had “a very positive overall opinion” of the program. Several themes that emerged from the interview: English 3D has met the English language development needs of middle school students; English 3D has helped the district increase its reclassification of LTELs; English 3D teachers are becoming more effective as they use the program; English 3D teachers have benefited from professional learning sessions. See Figure 2.